October 14, 2014 Willard Bay State Park, Utah

Antelope Island
Antelope Island

A Day Trip Out to Antelope Island

Today I drove down I-15 and took the causeway out to Antelope Island. The island is a Utah State Park with a $10 admission. Getting there you drive the causeway through about 7 miles of dried up lakebed before arriving on the 5 mile wide by 15 mile long island. There were large numbers of gulls, coots, and redhead ducks on the east side of the causeway just as you approach the island and a marina, left high and dry by the drought, on the west side.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Meadowlark
Meadowlark

I took a look at the Bridger Bay Campground to see if I wanted to venture out here for a few days with the RV. There were meadowlarks singing from the bushes all around the campground, so that in itself will probably get me back out here.

Meadowlark
Meadowlark

The campground appears well maintained with paved pull through sites as well as backins. Each site has a concrete patio and firepit with pretty decent spacing between sites as well as a great view of the Great Salt Lake from every site. There are no hookups but there is a dump station just down the road. Sites are reservable on #$%&# Reserve America.

Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle

Driving south down the island toward the Fielding Garr Ranch, I spied a large bird riding the thermals above the mountain slopes to the west. Stopping and scoping the bird, I recognized it as the second golden eagle I have now seen out here in Utah. It came close enough on one of it’s loops for me to get a couple of shots.

Bison
Riding bareback
Bison and companions
Bison and companions
Antelope Island bison
Antelope Island bison

 

 

 

 

 

The island is home to around 500 head of bison and just past the ranch on a short stretch of rough gravel road, I found about 100 of them grazing and relaxing in a large field.

Antelope Island Bison
Antelope Island Bison
Antelope Island bison
Antelope Island bison
Pronghorn
Pronghorn

One of my favorite animals, as well as the island’s namesake, the pronghorn antelope, was nowhere to be seen until I spotted a solitary animal off in the distance on my way back from the ranch.

From Antelope Island I headed a few more miles south to Farmington Bay Wildlife Management Area.

Farmington Bay Ducks
Farmington Bay Ducks

Here I finally found where all the areas ducks were hiding out. Plenty of ducks, as well as the ubiquitous coots, were scattered in large numbers in the bay south of the access road. Only problem was, there was no way possible to get anywhere near them to get any decent shots.

Western grebe
Western grebe
Western grebes
Western grebes

Farther out along the refuge road, I came across a few Western Grebes that did allow me to get a few shots.

White faced ibis
White faced ibis
Greater yellowlegs
Greater yellowlegs

There were a few other stragglers at this refuge, mainly the lone white faced ibis and greater yellowlegs pictured above, along with some other small waders and a few white pelicans. If only there were some way to get beyond the reeds protecting the ducks from my camera lens.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


October 10, 2014 Willard Bay State Park, Utah

Bear River NWR
Bear River NWR

Bear River National Wildlife Refuge ???

I took a drive out to explore the Bear River NWR first thing this morning.

Peregrin falcon and breakfast
Peregrin falcon and breakfast

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

On the 12 mile road into the loop road around the refuge wetlands, I encountered a peregrine falcon on a fresh kill,

Ring necked pheasant
Ring necked pheasant
Ring necked pheasant
Ring necked pheasant
Ring necked pheasant
Ring necked pheasant

 

 

 

 

 

Ring necked pheasant
Ring necked pheasant

as well as several pair of ring necked pheasants and a few Northern Harriers. As with the falcon, I just couldn’t get close enough to get a decent shot of these colorful introduced game birds. I was told that these pheasants, though not native here, do breed on the refuge. I really hope to be able to figure out a way to get close enough to these very wary birds to get a nice shot of them.

Unfortunately, duck hunting season opened on October 4th and hunting is allowed on this refuge. Not real clear to me how “hunting” and “wildlife refuge” are compatible uses. I would like to make it clear that I am not anti-hunting, just think that a wildlife refuge should be just that, a refuge for wildlife, not a plot of land designed and maintained to attract birds to hunt, that would be the function of a hunting club or organization.

Needless to say, there were no ducks to be seen anywhere on the refuge, and this refuge looks like it would normally be a gold mine for photographing ducks and other wetland species. One of the best loop roads of any of the NWR’s I have been to.

Western Grebe pair
Western Grebe pair

Love those red eyes !

Western Grebe pair
Western Grebe pair

I did manage to get a couple of decent shots of a pair of western grebes who were paddling around in the reeds,

White Pelicans
White Pelicans
White Pelicans
White Pelicans
White Pelicans
White Pelicans

but, other than one small group of white pelicans and a gazillion coots, in the face of shotgun blasts going off every few moments, no other wildlife dared show its face out there today.

I have a 3 PM appointment in Riverdale to have the 30,000 mile service done for the Prius, so that pretty much shot the afternoon.

A Very Rare Two Headed Western Grebe
A Very Rare Two Headed Western Grebe

Forgot about my shot of the day, a very rare two headed western grebe, obviously struggling with deciding in which direction it wanted to go. 😉

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


April 21, 2014 Bridgeport Reservoir, California

Western grebe pair
Western grebe pair

More Waterfowl

I ran down to the Bridgeport Reservoir Dam early this morning and got a shot of a pair of western grebes fishing.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Western grebe pair
Western grebe pair

I then drove farther down the road along the Clark River, stopping a couple of times and stealthily walking down through the sagebrush to the river’s edge trying to capture some duck shots before, or as they flew off.

Common merganser pair
Common merganser pair
Mallard pair takeoff
Mallard pair
Cinnamon Teal
Cinnamon Teal
Mallard drake in flight
Mallard drake in flight
Mallard pair takeoff
Mallard pair

It is amazing the number and diversity of ducks on this small, gorgeous river. I was told that this is one of the three most famous trout streams in the west, but I am impressed as much by the number of ducks it attracts. This morning I have found several Cinnamon Teal, Buffleheads, Common and Hooded Mergansers, Wood Ducks, Widgeons, a pair of Redheads, Mallards, Northern Shovelers, and Ring necked ducks all in just a half mile stretch of this 30 foot wide stream. Also present were several cormorants, grebes, and a white pelican. Quite a spot. Only issue is being able to sneak up on them with no trees to hide behind, and when they spook and take off, the camera finds it difficult to gain focus quick enough against the hillside brush on the far side of the stream.

Around 8:30, I took off for a return trip to Bodie. After driving all the way up there, I turned back at the start of the 3 mile dirt road in because of the white, overcast skies, no sun whatsoever. I figured there was no sense in beating the car up on the 3 miles of bad road when the resultant images would most likely not be all that good with the poor light.

So I returned home to process images and work on blog posts. I plan to head up to Carson City tomorrow but the weather calls for strong winds with a rain and snow mix, so I may extend my stay here another day. I have no desire to get caught on the road in that kind of weather, especially since I don’t know what kinds of elevations I may meet between here and Carson City.

Pinyon jays crowding the feeder
Pinyon jay
Mallard pair takeoff
Mallard pair
Mallard drake in flight
Mallard drake in flight

 

 

 

 

Mallard drake in flight
Mallard drake in flight
Cinnamon Teal
Cinnamon Teal